By Ashley Cordova & Elizabeth Noriega
Pueblo’s Hiking Club, sponsored by Mr. Ernesto Somoza, is off and running to new heights this year, as a record number of Warriors have joined—a total of approximately 50!—including about 10 adults, which include several teachers.
Last school year, 13 Hiking Club students participated in a Grand Canyon experience during spring break, which may have contributed to the high number of students joining this year, Somoza said. The trip was “very successful” and seemed to be an impetus for students wanting to join this school year.
Somoza plans to repeat this trip during spring break this March—due in part to the success of the club’s tax credit drive which raised more than $1,250. He added that he would love to take students to out-of-state hikes, including Yosemite in Central California and Arches National Park in Southern Utah—among other places. The more tax credit donations that the club receives, the more trips the club can partake in during the school year.
He added that only 10 students are able to participate in the Grand Canyon trip, and this participation is based on students’ generous tax dollars they donate to the club as well as their activeness in the club throughout the school year.
“The club has an excellent variety of students this year,” Somoza said. “They come with a variety of skill levels and with an enthusiasm to spend time in the outdoors.”Meetings take place in Mr. Somoza’s classroom (T-12) after school on the first Tuesday of each month. Club President Anette Durazo ensures that the club stay organized and helps approve hiking trips.
Durazo said, “Being in the Hiking Club has truly helped me become more outgoing. I love Arizona more than I did being. Going to Sedona last April really opened my eyes about seeing this great state. I love being outdoors a lot more now and appreciating nature.”
She added that the club’s next trip is scheduled for Feb. 10 to Colossal Caves, just east of Tucson.
“Even though I’m a native Tucsonan, I’ve never been to Colossal Caves,” Durazo said. “In fact, I’ve never been inside a real cave and looking forward to it.”
Senior Thai Kromrei, who has been a member of the Hiking Club for two years, said, “I’ve gotten to experience seeing Arizona. It’s such a beautiful and geographically diverse state. I want to see it all now, and thanks to Mr. Somoza, we are seeing a great chunk of it.”
The club was founded in the fall of 2015, Somoza’s first full school year.
The inception of the Hiking Club was the result of a conversation that Somoza had with (then) Assistant Principal Alma Carmona while attending a conference in Colorado. Somoza was talking to her about how he wanted to become more involved outside of the classroom. As a result of his over-zealous spirit, Carmona encouraged Somoza to become a Class of 2019 sponsor as well as the advisor of the newly-found Hiking Club.
“I hiked a lot during my college years, and I wanted students to experience what I enjoyed so much,” Somoza said.
He added that besides the Grand Canyon trip, Hiking Club members can expect other adventurous moments this semester—including the trip to Sedona and other small trips around the Tucson area.
“After I graduate, I plan to stay involved with the Hiking Club,” Durazo said. “Perhaps I could be a chaperone for high school students’ trips—to give me a chance to see more of Arizona and help promote a very worthy club.”